An Interview with Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor, President & Chief Executive Officer, Fitch Group

Published April 29th, 2019

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your position?

Maybe it’s the idea that I make all the decisions in my business and I don’t. I rely upon a team. I think a company isn’t about a few decisions at the top but the thousands of little ones. This idea that, as CEO, you run a company completely top-down is not how it works. You listen. You absorb your colleagues’ ideas. You support what you can and say, “No,” if you feel strongly. You have to give them space. As CEO, you try to reinforce the good bits and cut back on the lesser bits and you keep things moving forward. I’m a strong believer that if you leave a business in a slightly better position than you found it, you’ve done a good job.


What fictional place would you most like to visit?

Brigadoon. Well, they’re all happy, aren’t they? They just sing and dance and don’t seem to have any problems or cares. Seems like a good time.


Do you have any leisure activities outdoors you are looking forward to with summer coming?

Admittedly, I like the boring stuff. I travel all year, so it’s nice to stay in one place. I like to read a good book in my garden at home. My idea of a good time is reading in the garden with the (adult) kids coming around for Sunday lunch and a nice bottle of wine. I love being at home.


What are some of your favorite museums?

I have pretty eclectic tastes, so I appreciate just about all of them. I’ve done pretty much all the ones in New York. It can be the American Museum of Natural History or the MOMA- I find them all interesting and quite relaxing. This afternoon, I will be going to Gettysburg, so I’ll check out the museum there. I am going for a leadership event where we’ll be talking strategy while we walk around the battlefield and learn about the history. I’m really looking forward to that.


How do you cultivate young talent and what advice do you have for the twenty-year-old analyst looking to grow?

I have three kids in their twenties and I tell them patience is everything. You always think things should happen too fast. I thought I was ready to be CEO five years before I was. And, as a leader, I’ve made the mistake of promoting people too fast and they failed. I could’ve been more patient and made sure they were prepared and ready. I think some advice here is, “Make sure you know what you’re asking for before you get into it.” Another piece of advice I would give myself as I was stepping into leadership roles would be to listen more. Just sit back a bit more. I used to work with a woman who was the most senior person in the group.  In meetings, everyone would give opinions upfront, but she would wait until the end. I asked why she did that and she told me that she knew how much weight her opinion held and that to give it too early would influence the discussion too much. As a leader, you need to understand the influence you have. Now, I tend to sit back and not lead too many conversations. So, listen. Use your ears. I was lucky enough to have been born with big ears. [laughs] So, I use them.